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The Surprising Dialog Between Neurons and Glia in Brain Function

January 17, 2013

800px-Astrocyte

Today Dr. Brian MacVicar will talk about the emerging knowledge of astrocytes.

For more information on location, please go to the RSVP page on Eventbrite.

Talk Description: 

Glia cells were once thought to be silent entities that simply filled the space between brain cells called neurons – the electrically excitable cells responsible for transmitting and processing all of the information we take in throughout our daily lives. Of interest, two types of glia cells called “astrocytes” and “microglia” have recently been found to play a role in the following: regulating blood flow, responding to and modulating neuronal activity, and modifying brain tissue damage repair and control. Researching the interplay between glia and neurons is imperative for devising an understanding of how brain health is maintained, and provides further insight into the mechanisms of brain disease.

Dr. Brian MacVicar’s work with astrocytes has shown the importance of these cells in regulating blood flow, and providing nutrients to brain tissues of the cerebral hemispheres when blood flow is compromised. Additionally, the MacVicar lab has discovered that astrocytes release chemical factors that modify neuronal activity, suggesting that these cells are dynamic regulators of neural transmission. The lab’s current focus with respect to microglia, involves looking at the mechanisms by which these cells are capable of sensing, responding to, and containing brain tissue damage with a matter of seconds.

For more information about the MacVicar Lab please visit:

http://www.macvicarlab.ca

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